Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Dad!

Hope you have a great day! Love,Mary :-)

Life in Bangkok

Life in Bangkok with over a million people gone is really nice. Less people means lighter traffic and bluer skies. After the government declared last Thursday thru this Monday a holiday and the Ministry of Education made it mandatory for all schools (public, private, and international) to be closed until 7th November lots of people left town. Pictures online show crowded airports and full buses. Last week, along with my friend Melanie, we chose to stay here in Bangkok.  I prepared for possible flooding in many ways.

Water that has been boiled, some bottled, and other things to drink! 

A good find on Wednesday. 180Baht ($6USD), I heard prices went up since then!

My tap water supply. Needed if the electricity goes out to flush toilets and to wash!
This past week has been another up and down week. From reports on Wednesday night saying that Bangkok will wake with water in the city, to reports today saying that central Bangkok is almost in the clear. Roads here in downtown are still dry, but many areas with city limits are seeing the same water that devastated HTO turn their neighborhoods into lakes. I continue to keep most updated via twitter, friends' Facebook statuses and least reliably online media sources. If you need a laugh about the floods, some friends of mine who staying in BKK for the floods started a photo blog about how even though it's a crisis your style should not go to the side. Check out crisis chic here

Good links about the floods:
Video 1: 
Video 2:
Good visual of flooding: 

Greg left for the US on Tuesday and arrived safely. I've asked him to post a blog on his unique experience though so look for that shortly. He has enjoyed this week catching up with old friends and enjoying meals that include cottage cheese and IPA beer.

I'm still here to enjoy good Thai Food. Rice with Duck and a coke at our local favorite. 

I have continued to make progress with my online class, Peaceable Schools and Conflict Resolution, and should begin working on my Term 1 reports. Other things include researching my grad school options, some applications, and taking naps. After hearing that trains are running north to Chiang Mai, I may take a short trip up there before returning to school next Monday. We'll see :-)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How deep is it?

Not so deep yet. Should we be concerned about the new flood gauge in front of our condo?
Flood waters are slowly making there way into Bangkok, but have not reached our area yet. The fear of flooding has left Bangkok rather empty. I've never seen Rama IV road in front of our condo this empty at 5:30 on a Monday night.

There are plenty of flood defenses up around the neighborhood right now. My favorite is this 7 Eleven. It's still open, although rather tough to get in to thanks to the new 3 ft high concrete wall around it. Really, there is a sandbag staircase over the wall just around the corner so you can get in. It's a bit of a chore.

Here's a picture of the empty streets of Bangkok taken later in the evening.
Here's a similar shot from a few weeks ago.

This little fella was caught on the north side of Bangkok yesterday. Isn't he cute?

Due to the flooding at the factory I will be heading back to the U.S. tomorrow morning to help with production there. Mary is staying behind to keep working at her school. She is well stocked with food and water. Hopefully things stay dry in our neighborhood so she won't need her emergency supplies.

Mary was very sad that I won't be around to help decorate for Christmas, so we put up the Christmas tree a bit early. This made her happier.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Step 4: The flood

11 PM Thursday:

"Thai Prime Minister Asks Bangkok to Open All Floodgates" - PM warns Bangkok to Brace for Flooding.

"Flood waters are coming from every direction and we cannot control them because it's a huge amount of water. We will try to warn people.
The longer we block the water the higher it gets. We need areas that water can be drained through so the water can flow out to the sea" - Yingluck Shinaawatra - Prime Minister of Thailand.

In other news, we hit the jackpot at 7 Eleven tonight. It was our fourth stop looking for water and we arrived just after the pallet of water. A number of bottling plants are flooded so supply is very tight right now. Combine that with the 15 million people hoarding food and water and critical supplies are very hard to find right now. We are supplied for about 2 weeks right now. We are filling the bathtub now as an emergency reserve.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bangkok Declared Safe?

Good news as yesterday the Thai government declared that the surge of water from the north had passed Bangkok and the governments effort to save the city was a success!

This map illustrates why I do not believe the government
The Thai government handling of the flood crisis here has been abysmal. Rather than focusing on providing accurate information, the government leaders are more focused on protecting their personal assets and positioning themselves well politically. The basic model outlined below has been repeated dozens of times over the last 2 weeks.

Step 1: Announce the government will do everything in its power to save "location x"
Step 2: Declare the governments actions were successful in saving "location x"
Step 3: Announce that despite the excellent efforts to save "location x" it is still at slight risk
Step 4: "Location x" is completely inundated with flood water

Example: Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate

Step 1 (Oct 14) "Oldest Industrial Estate Battles On"

Step 2 (Oct 16): "Nava Nokorn Safe"

Step 3 (Oct 17): "Nava Nakorn On The Verge"

Step 4 (Oct 17): "Prime Minister Sorry Nava Nakorn Flooded"

Today Bangkok's governor declared that Bangkok may still be in danger. This sounds an awful lot like we just moved on to step 3.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

11 Minutes


Delivered 18 L of water to Puk + 6 bags of food
Bought Puk a small plastic boat - he stopped crying
Otherwise a normal day, lots of rain...


1:00 AM: 4 inches of water in the road.
1:31 AM: Lost power for the first time
1:42 AM: Power back on, going to try and sleep.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Still Dry in Bangkok

Where is the flood? Not in Bangkok, at least not yet. Government officials say that Bangkok will not flood, but they've said that about a lot of other places that are now flooded in the last week.

The Chao Phraya River is normally 200-300 meters wide. In places it is now 200 kilometers wide.

Here's a map showing where in Thailand there is currently flooding.
And here's a the status of flooding in the greater Bangkok Area
The flood prevention plan for Bangkok involves re-directing water around the east and west sides of the city through the many irrigation canals. I'm skeptical to say the least.
This weekend could get interesting as the peak flow of water starts reaching Bangkok. Ocean tides will also be at peak levels this weekend (Bangkok is only 2 meters above sea level). This will slow the rate at which water is flowing out out to sea. And of course, it still has not stopped raining...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday Update

Greg just said to me, "I need to stop checking the news sites. It's like a bad traffic accident and you can't look away." That's how we a feeling about things near us right now.

I spent the day at home today battling a case of 24 hour stomach flu. One of the things I did between naps is sign up for a twitter account to follow flood news. Great to keep informed, not great to get away from it all. We are still dry here as reports about flooding get closer and closer to the city. I plan on returning to school tomorrow for the last day of the first half term. Next week I have off. Who knows what that will bring.

Greg spent another day working from home and from a make shift office in Bangkok. Right now their focus is protecting the plant from looters. With a local hired boat, a team of people will go investigate tomorrow. One of their main concerns includes protecting themselves from wildlife that may have found refuge in the plant. The team that was rescued earlier this week saw 1 king cobra swimming in the water and there are reports of crocodiles as well.

Thank you for all of our friends, family, and just blog followers who have kept us, our driver, and all Thais in their prayers. Keep them coming!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Plan

I've never been happier to hear the the familiar voice on the other end of the line say "Hi boss, this is Puk."

Puk is okay. He is at the shop he owns in central Ayutthaya along with a few of his workers, protecting the shop from looting. He has run out of food, water, and money. With the help of a Thai friend, emergency provisions are now on the way. Puk will be taking a boat to the nearest dry land a few kilometers away to pick up emergency provisions before heading back to his shop.

Over the next day or two am getting an aid package together for him. Tentative plans are to try and make it up to him on Friday or Saturday with whatever food and water I can find on the empty shelves of Bangkok.

Instant noodles?

Not much bread either.


I just recieved a text message from message from my driver Puk. First contact in almost a week.

"Boss. How are you. I'm very troublesome. I now lack food and water."

I texted him back asking how I can help.

What's next?

Great thanks to those that tried to save the plant yesterday.

In other news, Bangkok is short on sand bags. This wall was going up on Rama IV road by our condo last night.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday Flooding Update

The factory is no longer accessible without a boat. Water is over the sandbags and entering the parking lot. Sandbags at the plant doors are holding most of the water out for now. The factory floor is also sealed off inside the plant.

6 people are stranded at the factory, unable to leave due to high water. Rescue crew should be there by boat later this afternoon.

The picture below is from Monday afternoon. Water is much higher now.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Flood Update

Here are some pictures from Sunday in and around Rojana Industrial Park. The plant lost power Saturday afternoon. We had just finished putting up sandbags Sunday when the mandatory evacuation order was given for our portion of the industrial park. News reports say the flood walls to the Rojana Industrial Park completely failed last night. As of Monday morning all roads to the plant are now under water.

Sunday on the way to the factory, near Wang Noi

Water is just starting to cross the road

Rice fields are full of water

Villagers are getting there feet wet

The road I'm on here is on top of the levy protecting the industrial park. Water is 30-50 cm higher than on Friday. The water is also now moving quite quickly.

Pictures below show the sandbags and plastic tarps we hope will protect the factory.
If water makes it past this point, things will get rather messy.

Water is nearing the top of the levy directly behind the plant.

A few more shots on the way home.
I still have not heard from my Driver Puk. I'm hoping he's okay.

Friday, October 7, 2011


น้ำ (pronounced "nam") means water in Thai...

We have a problem right now, and น้ำ pretty much sums it up.

Every year it rains in Thailaind, for about 6 months... This year has been exceptionally wet, and I'm afraid things are about to get very soggy in our neck of the woods.

Tonight on TV, I saw Al Jazeera report that "some rice fields in Thailand have been damaged by the flooding." They are well ahead of the western news agencies, and they are at least a week behind what's going on here. 250 are confirmed dead and many more missing. Over 1000 factories are now reported under water in Thailand's industrial areas.
HTI is still okay. Flooding is expected to get much worse in the next week.

Pictures below are from my commute home on Friday night.

Sandbags are being filled outside the HTI pland in Rojana Industrial Park, Ayutthaya, Thailand.

The road in the picture below is on top of the levy protecting the Rojana Industrial park. The water level in the canal is about 1 meter above the ground level in the industrial park, out of view to the right.
The water in the fields to the north is even higher than in the canal
I'm concerned I may not be able to make it to work on Monday. My primary route to work, the Asia highway, is now under water. The pictures below are on an alternate route. For those of you who know the area, this is on the road to Saraburi near Wang Noi, close to the MPT factory.
And further south, Phahoyothin road near Thammasat University is also slipping under the water.
The water was high enough that traffic on the Don Muang elevated toll road was being turned around as there was no was no dry ground to the north.

Water in Ayutthaya is expected to rise another 50cm or more, which puts HTI at moderate risk. The primary concern is whether or not the levy's will hold. Tonight dump trucks were bringing in loads of dirt to build up the flood protection.

Bangkok is expected to experience serious flooding within the next week.

If you're the praying type, please pray for my driver "Puk" and his family. Last time I saw him was Wednesday night after work. He was going back to help his family in severely flooded Ayutthaya Thailand. That was 2 days ago. Yesterday on the phone he said he just needed to cry, and he would call to let me know if he would work today (Friday). I haven't heard from him in 36 hours.

We are safe and dry on floor 22 of our condo.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Hutchinson Shopper

I never minded getting the free weekly shopper (ads mostly) while we lived in Hutchinson. Greg never understood its purpose... until now:

Thanks to Greg's co-worker Caleb who just arrived in Thailand for a short-term assignment, there are now 6, I mean 5, bottles of Summit IPA in our fridge. They all arrived here safely with the help of the weekly shopper!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Grand Final

As you may know from reading this blog or from talking with us, we (Greg especially) has become a fan of Australian Football. Yes, it's own sport. Read here for Greg's posting a few months ago on the game.

This past Saturday we were invited over to our friend Katherine and Ananth's home to watch the championship or Grand Final game. Geelong vs. Collingwood. Katherine is Australian and grew up watching Aussie Rules. Her parents were also in attendance, visiting from Australia to welcome Katherine and Ananth's newborn Sid born just a month ago. Other people included three of her Aussie neighbors and our friends Smitha, Kent, and newborn Jude.  It really felt like getting together to watch the Hawkeyes or Vikings back in the States. There was great food, conversation, and it turned out to be a great game as well. After being down in the first half, Geelong came back to win! Here's some pictures from the day. Not too many of Jude, he was quite fussy during the game and then just fell asleep inside their carrier.

Katherine with Sid and Smith with Jude. Sid is one day older than Jude. 

Sid and his mum watching his first Grand Final! Go Cats!

It was Katherine's birthday as well. Happy Birthday Katherine! Katherine, Ananth, and Sid

Katherine, and I with Sid

All the Aussies chatting Australia politics after the game.  They also wondered if there was anyone as crazy as Sarah Palin  running in the next presidential election....